In Memoriam: Dr. Anne Washington Saunders (April 3, 1959 – March 29, 2024)

Marist School is reflecting on the profound impact and cherished memories left behind by Dr. Anne Washington Saunders, whose presence enriched our community for more than 20 years until her passing on March 29, 2024. Dr. Saunders' contributions to our school have left an enduring legacy of academic excellence, dedication to learning, and service to others. Her loss is deeply felt by all who had the privilege of knowing her.
Joining Marist in August 2001 from St. Michael’s Academy in Texas, Dr. Saunders quickly became an integral part of the Marist community. She served as the Modern & Classical Languages department chair for over a decade, guiding the department through periods of growth and ensuring Marist’s language offerings met the needs of students. Her commitment to excellence also was demonstrated in her roles moderating the Junior Classical League (JCL) and Latin Honor Society. Her passion for teaching, particularly evident in her love for the 7th grade Fundamentals of Language course, enriched the educational experience of countless students and ignited in them a lifelong appreciation for language and culture.

Principal Mr. Kevin Mullally spoke of Dr. Saunders’ unmistakable devotion to Marist students during a school-wide prayer service held in her honor, coincidentally on her birthday, Wednesday, April 3. He remarked, “Dr. Saunders was always rooting for her students and demonstrated that through her patience and persistence in working with them. Students, know that you were taught and cared for by one the very best and the very brightest around.”

During the 2023-2024 academic year, Dr. Saunders taught Fundamentals of Language, Latin I, Honors Latin III, Honors Latin IV, and co-taught Advanced Placement Latin and Honors Latin V with Mr. Tom Marier until she began her leave of absence in February.

“Working with Dr. Saunders meant constantly exchanging ideas and making things better,” said Marier. “And along the way, she made me feel better about things, too, showing as she did kindness, generosity of character, gratitude, and forgiveness in her gracious, quiet, powerful way. I watched as she fell in love with Marist School and its special calling, and I found it easy to join her. And I know she had that effect on many others as well—her colleagues and students alike.”

Lainey O’Toole ’28, a member of the JCL who sang at Dr. Saunders’ prayer service, said, “Dr. Saunders always made class interesting.”

Fellow JCL member Flannery Hipp ’26 added, “Dr. Saunders would spend time with each person to make sure their projects were in the best condition, and she would not let any mistakes slide … It's something that will stick with me in years to come—that I should continue to encourage myself to try harder and to be better because she recognized my full potential, and she always wanted me to achieve it.”

Dr. Saunders' impact extended beyond academics. As one of the creators of the Foundations Program for 7th and 8th grade students at Marist, she was instrumental in shaping the middle school curriculum that caters to the unique needs of students during their formative years. She utilized her German language skills to chaperone students on an exchange trip to a Marist sister school in Fürstenzell, Germany in 2011, where she surprised and delighted her fellow chaperones with her drawing skills, including one of the Marist monastery and church in Fürstenzell.

Her commitment to service was exemplified through her involvement in mission trips and as a volunteer and chaperone for the Student Habitat for Humanity group, embodying the Marist mission of nurturing compassionate, servant leaders committed to making a difference in the world. JCL Parliamentarian Ryan Akin ’26 said, “Dr. Saunders saw the light in everyone. She was one of the most patient people I’ve ever known, with enough love and passion in her heart to change lives.”

Dr. Saunders' dedication to advancing student learning and her commitment to distinction and growth in the language program earned her the honor of Marist School’s prestigious Goizueta Chair of Excellence in 2011. This award acknowledged her innovative teaching, high standards of professional development, promotion of cross-cultural understanding and global interest, and involvement in student extracurricular activities.

Current Modern & Classical Languages Department Chair Mrs. Colleen Cogan Penn ’05 described Dr. Saunders’ influence on Marist as “immeasurable,” saying, “She embodied the mission of Marist School and lived it out every day. She is greatly missed, but her legacy will live on in the Modern & Classical Languages Department and in the Latin program, and she continues to inspire us all.”

Dr. Sanders’ presence and impact on the daily lives of Marist students and her peers could perhaps be seen most evidently in her role as a moderator of the JCL. She poured her heart into guiding the JCL from her very first year at Marist. She took great pride in the school’s ongoing efforts at the state and national levels, tirelessly preparing for events and competitions.

“Whenever I think of Dr. Saunders, I always see her in motion … She was always revising or rewriting whenever she felt a piece of work unsatisfactory—settling for no less than perfection—an approach she took to all areas of life,” said JCL member Cole Saunders ’25. “More importantly, at the core of her approach to teaching was a deep compassion and love for her students, which drove her everyday interactions. Because of Dr. Saunders, no student was ignored, excluded, or left behind. She loved her students and was well-loved by them.”

Her dedication to the JCL and its mission to promote classical education was infectious, inspiring countless students to embrace their love for language, culture, and history. Her passion for the classics was evident across campus, whether it was in witnessing Mt. Vesuvius erupting in Alumni Plaza, experiencing the excitement of a thrilling chariot race through the Arcade, enjoying Cocoa and Carols during the holidays, or by participating in memorable events such as a dawn to dusk Virgil read-a-thon. The JCL raises funds through events like the read-at-thon and Mythopaloosa to support students around the greater Atlanta area who wish to take the National Mythology Exam (NME).

Irene Kim ’27, JCL historian, said, “Dr. Saunders was one of the best people I knew. She wanted her students to feel comfortable in her classrooms, and the work she did for us all truly left an impact and an impression on our lives that only comes once in a lifetime.”

JCL Co-President Andrew Albright ’24 reflected, “Dr. Saunders was an integral part of both Marist’s Latin program and my personal development over the past six years. Her unrivaled passion inspired countless students in Latin and Fundamentals of Language to deepen their love of mythology, the classics, and linguistics in general, pushing us to continual improvement in the pursuit of excellence.”

Dr. Anne Washington Saunders fostered a love for classical languages and literature in Marist School students. Her devotion to excellence in education will continue to inspire the Marist community to approach learning with passion and a sense of joy.

The funeral Mass will be held Friday, April 26 at 4 p.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (353 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308). Dr. Saunders will be interred at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Evington, Virginia.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Marist School to support Mythopaloosa. Checks may be made out to "Marist School" and mailed to 3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30319. Gifts may also be made online at Please write "In memory of A-W Saunders" in the memo line or comments section of your gift. Gifts may also be directed to Good Shepherd Society (c/o Billy McCarthy, Treasurer, 1223 Irish Court, Lynchburg 24503).

If students, faculty, or staff need support during this time of grieving, the Marist counselors and campus ministers are available. Marist alumni may reach out to Fr. Mark Kenney, S.M. for pastoral care.

Read Dr. Anne Washington Saunders’ obituary.

Read about recent accomplishments of Marist’s Latin students under the guidance of Dr. Saunders:

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An Independent Catholic School of the Marist Fathers and Brothers